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First Lady pledges for a healthier Kenya, relaunches marathon



First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has relaunched the Beyond Zero marathon with a new resolve to step up her work towards a healthier Kenya. 

The First Lady kicked off the momentum towards the forthcoming marathon by registering as its first participant and receiving a new certificate changing the name of the event from the First Lady’s Half Marathon (FLHM) to Beyond Zero Marathon (BZM 2019).

The spouses of Deputy President William Ruto and former PM Raila Odinga Rachel Ruto and Ida Odinga respectively also signed up to participate in the event scheduled for March 10 next year.

The Marathon relaunch-cum-stakeholders luncheon at State House, Nairobi, was attended by several First Ladies from the counties and representatives from the diplomatic corps, UN bodies, corporates, NGOS, Ministry of Health, donor agencies, pharmaceutical companies, the media and hospitals.

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The inaugural FLHM was held in March 2014 followed by two other successful events in 2015 and 2016 before taking a two-year break.

Besides holding the events in Kenya, the First Lady also participated in them 42km London marathon in 2014 followed by further training sessions in Japan and Addis Ababa.

The marathons are aimed at creating awareness and drawing the attention of stakeholders to the challenges of maternal and infant health in Kenya besides raising resources to increase access to healthcare for mothers and their babies.

The marathon is one of the key resource mobilization events for Beyond Zero, a flagship program aimed at saving the lives of mothers and children by preventing preventable maternal and infant deaths.

Beyond Zero is a platform through which the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has, for the last five years, delivered much-needed health interventions majorly to mothers and children mostly in hard to reach areas.

The First Lady said despite the successful milestones made by Beyond Zero, largely enabled by resources mobilized through the marathons and partners, her work towards quality and accessible healthcare, is far from being finished.

“Our work will require stepping up our joint efforts, re-dedicating our energies, and building our collective resolve towards a healthier and better future for Kenyans,” said the First Lady.

The First Lady thanked all stakeholders in her campaign saying Kenya was considered to be among the most dangerous countries for women to give birth in before  Beyond Zero rallied its partners in 2014 towards a commitment of working together to reverse the scenario.

“We started our work at a time when Kenya was considered to be among the most dangerous countries to give birth,’’ said the First Lady pointing out that health access, quality and care was the determinant cause for the unacceptable high mortality and morbidity rates among women and children at the time.

But looking back, the First Lady’s selfless efforts and close support by the partners-both financially and in kind- have paid huge dividends and many mothers and children can now access quality healthcare partly delivered to their door-steps through the fully kitted 52 mobile clinics that she distributed to all the 47 counties during the first phase of Beyond Zero.

“I stand before you filled with admiration, hope, and gratitude. Gratitude to you and countless others across the country, for your tireless work in your different capacities to improve the health and well-being of Kenyan families,” the First Lady told the partners and stakeholders.

United Nations Resident Co-ordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Sidharth Charterjee said Beyond Zero had redefined the ecosystem of reproductive health in Kenya through good partnerships and convergence of policy.

He pledged that the UN family will continue working with the First Lady to ensure the success of both Beyond Zero and the Universal Health Coverage, whose pilot program President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to launch next week in Kisumu.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the drop in HIV transmissions between mothers and babies was largely attributed to Beyond Zero’s elimination of Mother-to-Child-Transmission (eMTCT) program.

The Managing Director of the Commercial Bank of Africa Isaac Awuondo who spoke on behalf of the corporates and the business community said the selfless health agenda by the First Lady had touched many lives across the country.

The relaunch of the marathon coincides with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which was marked on Monday.

During the event a group of young people living with various forms of disability like Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Downs Syndrome showcased their talents including their mastery of musical instruments through several performances.